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Hughes nominates new Metro chief operating officer

Martha Bennett is currently city manager of Ashland

Metro President Tom Hughes has nominated Ashland City Manager Martha Bennett to be the regional government's new Chief Operating Officer.

If approved by the elected Metro Council, Bennett will begin work on Oct. 31, replacing Michael Jordan, who was hired by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber to be the state's first COO in February.

'I chose Martha because I'm impressed with her energy, her honesty and her intelligence,' Hughes said in a Wednesday email to Metro staff. 'She brings the right mix of experience, humor and work ethic we need to move Metro and our region forward. Martha's penchant for candor, combined with her political savvy, will help us face the challenges of creating good jobs now and in the future, protecting our farm and forest land, and making the most of our great cities and towns.'

Bennett has been Ashland's city manager since 2006. Before that, she worked in northwest Oregon in the early 2000s as the executive director of the Columbia River Gorge Commission. Bennett was also an assistant city manager in Milwaukie and an assistant to former Sen. Mark Hatfield. She earned her master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley and her bachelor's from Willamette University.

Hughes chose Bennett over three other finanlists. They included Metro's Sustainability Center Director Jim Desmond, the only in-house candidate. The other two finalists were Albany City Manager Wes Hare and Sandy City Manager Scott Lazenby.

'The people Martha works with praise her creativity and her focus on solutions instead of problems,' said Hughes. 'She has a reputation for being approachable and leading a strong, dedicated management team that supports her vision. She's earned the respect of her mayor, her city council, her employees, the public, and the Metro Council.'

Bennett's salary has not been announced. The range starts at $169,000.

Metro represents the urbanized areas of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. It is charged with planning for growth, approving transportation projects and operating a number of regional facilities, including the Oregon Convention Center.